apple-sim

Along with Apple’s introduction of the iPad Air 2 comes a new take on the lowly SIM card. Not only does the tablet ship with just about every LTE band and frequency one could want, the hardware is delivered preloaded with an agnostic SIM for network authentication. As T-Mobile’s CEO tweets:

So the Apple SIM theoretically saves Apple some packaging expenses and provides us, the end users, with amazing flexibility – buy the iPad and choose whichever carrier we want at any point after we get it home. And, down the road, we’d be free to flip carriers as coverage or pricing changes. It’s a grand, consumer friendly vision. However, the future hasn’t quite arrived. Due, once again, to short-sighted carrier protectionism (and technical glitches). Continue Reading…

IMG_7089

Intro

Back in March, Plantronics announced the BackBeat Fit ($130), a sportier version of their Backbeat Go 2 Bluetooth headphones designed to withstand the abuse of regular fitness workouts (and confirmed sweaty lawn mowing! :-). I’ve been evaluating these headphones the past few weeks and wanted to share a rundown of features and my overall opinion.

Product Info

When you unpack the BackBeat Fits, they come with the headphones themselves, a carrying pouch that doubles as an armband for your phone, and a micro USB cable and charger. The headphones use Bluetooth 3.0 for connectivity which gives you a range of 33ft from your device. As with most new Bluetooth devices, the pairing process was easy with an iPhone 5s. You simply go to the Bluetooth setting page, turn on the BackBeat Fit which goes into pairing mode, and then select the headphones to pair. The BackBeat fit can also remember up to 8 different devices for pairing so it’s easy to switch between multiple sources if needed. Continue Reading…

TiVo Returns To Canada (10/30)

Dave Zatz —  October 22, 2014 — 7 Comments

cogeco-tivo

It’s been a long while since TiVo has been offered in Canada. However, by way of the Investor Discussion Board and Twitter it appears that Cogeco will formally introduce their TiVo solution to Ontario cable customers at 11AM on 10/30. Whereas prior distribution was handled via retail, possibly including a drive across the border, this is obviously a provider offering… and presumably supports Cogeco’s full digital cable lineup without customers having to front a substantial chunk of change. Not to mention this is clearly the DVR from space.

tivo-winter-update

TiVo’s Winter Update nears release. And, as you can see from the pic above, it’s headlined by mobile streaming enhancements along with the previously disclosed Amazon and Vudu apps. While Vudu and its Ultraviolet library tie-in an entirely new (and welcome) TiVo offering, Amazon Instant is a long overdue update that brings the full fledged streaming app experience… and finally includes access to oodles of “free” Prime content.

Beyond the new and improved over-the-top video content, TiVo also promises “improved video quality and performance while streaming shows to mobile devices.” As to the specifics, one can only guess. But I’m hopeful this refers to a more dynamic and broader range of bitrates… to finally also bring cellular streaming to iOS devices and perhaps the retirement of the TiVo proxy, requiring extra hops for all video to flow through.

The Winter update is expected to hit TiVo Roamio and Mini extenders by late November (but hopefully sooner).

TiVo Revises Roamio Remote

Dave Zatz —  October 18, 2014 — 19 Comments

tivo-slide-pro

By way of the FCC, we learn that TiVo intends to refresh their Roamio remote. And, as this is a “permissive change” filing specific to the original TGN-RC30 hardware, the in-place upgrade is likely driven by component availability and cost, perhaps with some performance improvement.

  • Change of PCB pattern size
  • Change of Component size, shift of component.
  • Add component, delete component.
  • Antenna location shift
  • Antenna Chip size change and location shift

Meanwhile, as previously revealed, an RF remote will likely be bundled with the next iteration of the TiVo Mini and, coincidentally, I just received a new TiVo Slide Pro remote (pictured above)… because my Mini has had trouble receiving IR commands deep inside the TV stand. Fortunately, the Slide Pro does include learning capabilities and I’ve programmed the power button to simultaneously control both TV and 5.1 Vizio soundbar. And, once Amazon Instant and Vudu hit in the next couple weeks, I’ll surely put that QWERTY keyboard to work.

chromecast-v2

More than a year after release, Google appears poised to refresh Chromecast (in addition to cranking away on the new Android TV platform). As to what’s improved, FCC filing details are scarce due to the typical 180 confidentiality request. Having said that, we anticipate this is a minor hardware revision given the incoming device sports the same model number as my original streaming+mirroring stick (tho the FCC ID increments from -42 to -2A) – perhaps representing a swapping of internal components for cost savings and/or performance gains. Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  October 16, 2014 — 5 Comments

A periodic roundup of relevant news…

nexus-player

Google and Asus release first Android TV device for $99
The Nexus Player, which was announced in conjunction with the Nexus 6 phone, the Nexus 9 tablet and Android Lollipop on Wednesday, is being manufactured by Asus and will be available for pre-order starting October 17 and go on sale on November 3.

HBO’s Over-the-Top Service: Here’s What We Know
HBO has shaken up the media biz with its plan to launch a standalone over-the-top service next year, making the pay-TV titan the first major cable programmer to be marketed to consumers who do not pay for a traditional MVPD subscription.

PlayStation TV Launches, Sans Netflix
While Sony’s new paperback-sized device is primarily a gaming machine, it also serves as a media streamer with initial support for apps, including Sony’s Crackle video-on-demand service, anime app Crunchyroll and the music concert and documentary service, Quello.

Introducing InstaWatch from VUDU and Walmart
Exclusively from VUDU and Walmart, InstaWatch gives you a digital copy of every eligible DVD or Blu-ray that you buy at Walmart stores or on Walmart.com—automatically.

Plex app coming to select 2013/14 Vizio HDTVs
we’re happy to say that we can lend at least some of you a hand. We’re thrilled to announce our brand new Plex app for VIZIO Smart TVs, available today for Plex Pass subscribers! Once the Plex Pass preview period ends, the app will be available to purchase for a one-time fee